Saturday, November 28, 2015

Exploring The Link Between Infection And Mental Illness

The latest research into the link between germs and mental illness -- and what we all need to know. 

In the early 20th century, if you displayed symptoms of mental illness a doctor might have searched you for signs of infection, and then removed the teeth, tonsils or other body part that was the suspected culprit. Treatment has evolved a great deal since then, but the idea that infection could play a significant role in some mental illness is making a comeback. A number of experts say ten to fifteen percent of conditions – from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder – could be caused by infection. But many others warn too much remains unknown to dramatically change our thinking about treatment. We explore the link between germs and our mental health.


  • Dr. Robert Yolken director, Stanley Laboratory of Developmental Neurovirology; professor of pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • Harriet Washington medical ethicist and writer; author of the new book "Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We 'Catch' Mental Illness", and of 2007's "Medical Apartheid", winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; Shearing fellow at the University of Nevada's Black Mountain Institute; former Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. James Giordano Professor of Neurology; Chief, Neuroethics Studies Program at Georgetown University Medical Center
Read full transcript and/or Listen to the show:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lyme disease increase predicted by acorn boom

In New York's Hudson Valley, it's hard to go outside without stepping on an acorn. Oaks have 'boom and bust' acorn production cycles. In lean years, trees produce a handful of nuts. In boom years, acorns seem to rain down from the sky. We are currently experiencing an acorn bumper-crop, or what ecologists call a 'mast' year.

In some forests, there can be more than 100 acorns per square meter. This is welcome news to animals like mice, chipmunks, and squirrels. They can gorge on the bounty and stock their larders. Acorn caches help wildlife avoid predators and survive the lean months of winter. They even give well-fed rodents a jump-start on the breeding season.

For this reason, acorn "mast" years are also harbingers of future Lyme disease risk. In the summer following acorn booms, white-footed mouse numbers explode. In New York's Hudson Valley, these mice play a major role in infecting blacklegged ticks with the agents that cause Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis.

Cary Institute disease ecologist Rick Ostfeld explains.

"The ticks that are emerging as larvae in August – just as the mice and chipmunks are reaching their population peaks – they have tons of excellent hosts to feed from. They survive well and they get infected with tick-borne pathogens. And that means that two years following a good acorn crop we see high abundance of infected ticks, which represents a risk of human exposure to tick borne disease."

Predictions are based on 20 years of field studies that have confirmed the relationship among acorn mast years, mouse outbreaks, and the prevalence of infected ticks. Mark your calendars – 2017 will likely be a bad year for Lyme disease.

"Earth Wise" is heard on WAMC Northeast Public Radio and is supported by the Cary Institute.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dangerous Antibiotic-Resistance Gene Identified in China

November 18, 2015

Dangerous Antibiotic-Resistance Gene Identified in China — Implications "Enormous"

By Joe Elia

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM

Polymyxin resistance, possibly caused by extensive use of colistin in meat production, has emerged in China, according to a study in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The resistance factor, called MCR-1, is carried on a plasmid (a small, extrachromosomal piece of DNA in bacteria) and could be transferred between strains of E. coli. It has also occurred in other enterobacteria, including Klebsiella and Pseudomonas.

Samples of meat sold at retail in China showed an increased prevalence of the factor between 2011 and 2014. Sixteen hospitalized people also tested positive for MCR-1.

Commentators say that "the implications of this finding are enormous," warning that MCR-1 "will seriously limit the lifespan of the polymyxins as the backbone of regimens against multiply resistant Gram-negative bacilli."

- See more at:

"Emergence of plasmid-mediated colistin resistance mechanism MCR-1 in animals and human beings in China: a microbiological and molecular biological study"

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Scientific evidence for persistence of Lyme bacteria

The list of scientific references from ILADS, with information provided by Dr. Bransfield, is actually 5 separate lists. 

The first list (general) is very long. Farther down are separate lists: Another long one on psychiatric topics, and toward the bottom of the file, lists on AD, autism, and congenital transmission.  

Thanks to MMI (Microbes and Mental Illness) for having posted these lists, and to Dr. Bransfield for his dedicated work on them. 

New movie about the Lyme controversy

This is a recent video by Randy Sykes about the Lyme controversy:


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fossilized tick found in amber indicates Lyme disease is older than human race

Tick larvae encased in a 15- to 20-million-year-old piece of amber contains oldest known ancestor of Borrelia burgdorferi.

Mar 09, 2015

Veterinary professionals are no strangers to the stealthy spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi—but the discovery of spirochete-like cells in a 15-million-year-old amber-encased tick reveals that the bacteria have been lurking around long before humans walked the Earth.

The discovery was made by George Poinar Jr., a paleoentomologist, parasitologist and one of the world's leading experts on plant and animal life forms found preserved in amber. In fact, you may remember the amber-encased mosquito in the plot of the wildly popular Michael Crichton novel and movie Jurassic Park. Poinar's early research is said to have inspired the story.

Read the whole story:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Your data can help find a cure for Lyme

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Malaria code cracked?

[Scientists] say it is down to protein molecules called cyclins that cause cells to divide rapidly in the malaria parasite. Since Malaria and Babesiosis have common traits, I post this article. Both are treated with the same meds, typically: Mepron and Malarone.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Infectious?

AIMS Neuroscience, Volume 2 (4): 240–258. DOI: 10.3934/Neuroscience.2015.4.240 Received date 31 July 2015, Accepted date 4 November 2015, Published date 11 November 2015

Abstract: Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been recently considered as a possible brain infection related to the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) transmissible dementia model. As with CJD, there is controversy whether the infectious agent is an amyloid protein (prion theory) or a bacterium. In this review, we show that the prion theory lacks credibility because spiroplasma, a tiny wall-less bacterium, is clearly involved in the pathogenesis of CJD and the prion amyloid can be separated from infectivity. In addition to prion amyloid deposits, the transmissible agent of CJD is associated with amyloids (A-β, Tau, and α-synuclein) characteristic of other neurodegenerative diseases including AD and Parkinsonism. Reports of spiroplasma inducing formation of α-synuclein in tissue culture and Borrelia spirochetes inducing formation of A-β and Tau in tissue culture suggests that bacteria may have a role in the pathogenesis of the neurodegenerative diseases.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

literature review on persistence

Here is a literature review on persistence of Lyme bacteria post antibiotic therapy.